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A behavioral bioinformatics approach to quantify the impact of comfort food and stress responses

Grant number: 13/02360-4
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Doctorate
Effective date (Start): May 01, 2013
Effective date (End): March 31, 2014
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Physiology - Physiology of Organs and Systems
Principal Investigator:Regina Celia Spadari
Grantee:Daniela Ortolani
Supervisor: Laurence H. Tecott
Host Institution: Instituto de Saúde e Sociedade (ISS). Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP). Campus Baixada Santista. Santos , SP, Brazil
Research place: University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), United States  
Associated to the scholarship:11/17887-2 - Role of nitric oxide synthase and beta-adrenoceptors in cardiac tissue of rats subjected to stress with access comfort food, BP.DR


The history of humanity reports that since primitive age, stress has caused disturbances to human beings. In the today's competitive world, stress is present almost all the time. Moreover, modernity, industrialization and urbanization have brought also convenience in food, provided by the technology: attractive food supply, high-calorie, scarce of nutrients and saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugars and alcohol. This situation has made the individuals increasingly less active, obese and chronically stressed. Considering these characteristics of modern and competitive society and its effect on nutrition, the stress is presented as a risk factor for many diseases. Therefore it is important to understand the effects of stress on the body as well as the adaptive mechanisms triggered by stress. Authors proposed that the release of glucocorticoids stimulate the consumption of high-calorie foods, which in turn, protect the HPA axis dysfunction associated with stress and, thus of depression and anxiety. The proliferation of mouse lines bearing mutations of neuronal genes provides unprecedented opportunities for uncovering neural bases of anxiety and for developing novel pharmacotherapeutic approaches for anxiety disorders. The extent to which we may productively examine the impact of genetic and pharmacological manipulations on anxiety-related behavior depends critically on the reliability and sensitivity of mouse behavioral assays. A growing appreciation of these caveats has led to a call for the development of novel approaches for detecting behavioral correlates of anxiety in the mouse. The research group led by Dr. Laurence Tecott has developed systems for detailed monitoring of the rich patterns of behaviors exhibited by mice in their home cages. This approach provides an opportunity to examine spontaneous behavioral patterns, with high levels of precision and quantitation. In this study we propose that stressors and anxiogenic treatments will produce characteristic alterations of home cage behavioral patterns that may serve as sensitive and specific behavioral "signatures" of anxiety state. We plan to determine the extent to which detection and analysis of such patterns can be used for assessing the anxiolytic properties of drugs in the mouse submitted to different types of stress and fed with comfort food. (AU)

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